What is a domain, and what does it do?
A domain can refer to several different things, but in common usage it refers to the address of a website. It’s also sometimes called the URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator (you will never need to know that, but it might help you on Trivia Night).
You can register your own domain name, as long as no one else has already registered it. All you need is a credit card. It usually costs between $10.00 – $20.00 per year, although many registration companies will offer specials from time to time. You can register most domains through companies like GoDaddy, Dotster, Bluehost, Siteground, or Media Temple. If you have a country-specific domain in mind, like .ca for Canada or .ie for Ireland, you’ll have to search for a registrar in that country.
You cannot buy a domain outright, but we still say that you are the “owner” of a domain, even though you are actually paying a yearly rental fee for its use. No one can force you to give up a domain once you own it, unless its use involves infringement on a trademark, copyright, or public figure name. The only way someone can legally take your domain away from you is if you forget to renew your registration in time. Even so, registrars will send you reminder notices long beforehand, and there is usually a grace period after its expiration where you can still recover it.
Once you own a domain, you can use it for your own website. To do this, you will need to have a hosting plan. WordPress.com will give you free hosting and a free blog, and for a small annual fee they will allow you to use your own domain with it. If you want to hire a professional designer instead, they will set up a site for you at your domain.
Domains can also be used to set up email addresses, because emails are sent through domains, like “[email protected]”. In fact, you don’t even need a website to have an email address at a specific domain. In the case of an email address, the domain refers to everything after the @ symbol. Tom’s email account is at the tomsite.com domain, which would also be the address of the website he had there.
Have more questions about domains? Drop us a line! We’re always glad to help, and there’s no obligation.